So — what makes a retired psychotherapist/forensic psychologist/rabbi decide to learn Spanish? According to Art Blecher, it was the desire to connect on a deeper level with his own neighborhood. “I’m realizing how many people I live with on a daily basis that speak Spanish,” he told us. “I’ve been in DC since 1978 — there are so many people around me that speak Spanish that I had never previously connected with.”
Finding A Common Ground
Art has been observing language barriers at work for quite sometime. Before retiring, he was often called as an expert witness in many immigration cases, where interpreters were often needed. He saw the disadvantage many non-native-English-speakers were faced with in having to rely on a translator. Part of the reason Art enjoys using his Spanish with native speakers in his neighborhood is to flip the typical conversational advantage most native English speakers are accustomed to. “My Spanish is not good, so it provides an equalizer. The English as a second language inequality gets reversed. I think it makes a difference.” From the supermarket, to restaurants, to getting his hair cut, Art has been finding ways to get his practice in right at home in Washington DC. “My barber is from Costa Rica, and we speak in Spanish occasionally. It’s very fun, although his English is excellent.”## Learn Online
“I wasn’t ready to go back to school,” he confessed. That’s why he decided to try Fluent City’s online classes, instead. Now, he’s enrolled in Spanish with Catalina, and they meet via Skype. “I love it, I love it, I love it,” said Art. “It’s very different. I never felt like I could ‘talk.’ We talk for an hour, so the conversations are really personal, you know: ‘Where did you grow up? What’s NYC like? What’s DC like? [Catalina] is such an optimistic and outgoing person, so pleasant to talk to.”## Goal-Setter; Go-Getter
Art also felt he wanted to show himself that he could do something like learn a new language. “You worry at a certain age: am I sharp? I wanted to prove to myself that I could pick up something new.” His long term goals? “I want to be able to understand people. I listen to Spanish TV, read Spanish newspapers, and listen to Spanish radio — but I want to be able to use it as a second language.”
Inspired by Art? Check out our online classes here.